Tamil poet and writer Manushyaputhiran faces the wrath of a Muslim organisation for expressing his views against the beheading of Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek in Saudi Arabia after being found guilty of smothering a child to death.
Besides denigrating Manushyaputhiran alias Sahul Hameed in strong language, Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamaath, a Muslim organisation, has challenged him for a debate on capital punishment. P. Jainulabdeen, president of the organisation, has also asked DMK president M. Karunanidhi to participate in the debate as the latter supported Manushyaputhiran’s arguments against the death penalty.
A public meeting has been organised on Sunday against Manushyaputhiran, Nakkheeran editor R.R. Gopal (in whose magazine the writer’s article had appeared) and Mr. Karunanidhi.
“They allege that I have spoken against the Shariat Law. When many countries, including Muslim countries, have banned the death penalty, the barbaric act is still in practice in Saudi Arabia. I wrote against it in Nakkheeran magazine, arguing that it is against civilisation. Fundamentalist elements keen on mobilising Muslim youth for political motives have launched a campaign against me,” said Manushyaputhiran.
He said there were a lot of messages on his Facebook wall and one person even went to the extent of saying that he would physically assault him and would not mind facing the legal consequences. “They are threatening me and calling me for a debate. All I said was that Rizana was only 17 years old when she was executed and no international guidelines were followed in her case. I want to point out that two Europeans sentenced to death penalty could escape punishment in Saudi Arabia because of international pressure. On the other hand, a poor Muslim girl from an Asian country has been brutally killed,” said Manushyaputhiran.
According to him, organisations like the Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamaath are advocating a pure form of Islam, closing the doors on local Tamil culture and seeking to convert it into a religion that cannot accommodate democratic norms. “I have also expressed my views against the ban on Vishwaroopam because freedom of expression is as important as the rights of minorities,” he said.
In his letter to Manushyaputhiran, Mr. Jainulabdeen said the writer had distorted facts while criticising the execution, including the fact that the maid was not a minor at the time of offence. He had accused the writer of advancing irrelevant arguments against the death penalty.
Efforts to contact Mr. Jainulabdeen were in vain.